Last week, I stayed in Casa Amiga to conduct English lessons with five students who were interested in extra practice. While there were some good moments, often involving bilingual karaoke, they all had a lot of work to do for their summer job with Project Amigo. For this reason I was only able to teach for two days instead of the planned four. I was already getting bored before I moved to Cofradia on Friday to spend a lazy weekend in the hacienda, where I've now moved permanently. Because Cofradia is near the volcano and at a higher elevation, the climate is much more suited for sleeping and existing in general. The villagers refer to the weather as "refresco,” which I've gathered means something along the lines of “cool” or “crisp.” I haven't been scared to sleep alone since I found out that those gunshots at four in the morning last month were just celebrating the Virgen de Guadalupe, but by Monday I was definitely ready to leave the hacienda for more than just a quick run to the store for more Manzana lift (my beloved Mexican sparkling apple soda).
On Monday morning I met Francis, a recent graduate from Project Amigo's scholarship program, in the nearby town of Suchitlan where she tutors children with special needs for credit towards her major in special education. My plans for the week were to shadow her and hopefully help out in whatever way I saw fit. What I hadn't been told was that the kids were all scattered in different schools and in this particular week she only had plans to work with one boy for forty-five minutes, three days a week. These sorts of miscommunications have been increasingly common throughout the last few weeks. (For example, I left Queseria last week with a sad good-bye because I'd been told the school year was over. in fact, it's still going on, and they didn't understand why I arbitrarily stopped coming and didn't tell anybody that I wasn't planning to return.) Anyway, it's hard to tell whether blame lies in the flawed workings of small non-profits (to which I'm no stranger) or in the slowly-shrinking language gap.
In any case, most of the damage was already done when I found out that this child was sick and probably wouldn't be coming all week. I parted ways rather awkwardly with Francis and headed straight up a nearby mountain as per the suggestion of a local store owner. Trying not to slip on the rotten mangoes and guayabas that littered the path, I made it to a mountaintop overlook with a perfect view of the volcanoes. Immediately below me was a charred sugar-cane field; at the end of the harvest season farmers burn the soil to clarify it for the next year's crop.
It looks like the excess free time might get to be a problem soon, but for today I won't complain.